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Tuesday, May 18, 1999 Published at 21:25 GMT 22:25 UK


Serb army brands protesters as 'traitors'

The Serbian news agency Beta on Tuesday carried the full text of a Yugoslav Army statement condemning the organizers of anti-war protests in the town of Krusevac as "traitors".

The statement, which was signed by the command of the town's garrison and read out on local TV, reads as follows:

"Citizens of Krusevac: Yesterday, 17th May, and today, 18th May, a gathering of citizens was organized in Krusevac to demand that the members of the war units be allowed to return home.

"The organized gathering turned into demonstrations of a destructive nature.

"The parents' most noble feelings were misused by the organisers, who have, for the most part, been identified.

"The procedure envisaged by the Law on the State of War has been initiated against the organizers and initiators of these demonstrations.

"The war has been imposed on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

So far, the aggressor has conducted over 20,000 sorties and dropped more explosives than during the whole of World War II.

In spite of this, the enemy has not achieved its goals.

"The heroic behaviour of the people and their army in the defence of the homeland and everything we hold sacred has forced the enemy to begin considering now whether to officially declare war on the FRY or turn to a diplomatic-political path.

"A number of peace initiatives are under way, and our unity and successful defence, which we must preserve at all costs, are sure guarantees that we will become equal partners in talks and win a just peace.

"Seeing that the mightiest war machinery in the world and the criminal and bestial bombing are not enough to break the resistance of our defence, the enemy is now trying to find among us the supporters of capitulation and traitors.

"The destructive demonstrations in Krusevac on 17 and 18th May were intended to break our defence capabilities.

"The decision by the Supreme Command on the reduction of the number of the Yugoslav Army members in Kosovo has been carried out in accordance to plan and in view of the situation.

"In the conditions of continuous bombing, the plans for the withdrawal have to be subordinate primarily to the protection of the lives of our fighters.

"The demands that the issues of defence be resolved in different ways, through demonstrations, destruction and wilfulness and instructions from the side, represent direct collaboration with the enemy and are intended to weaken our defence abilities.

"In a state of war, gathering is allowed only with the permission of the relevant authorities.

Any other behaviour, such as encouraging and inciting unrest and destruction and spreading disinformation and rumours, is punishable in accordance with the Law on War Conditions.

"The Yugoslav Army units will continue to provide all necessary information, and the bodies of authority and local self-government will continue to provide all assistance to the families of the fighters.

"No issue will be resolved in the streets, and the undermining of the country's defence powers will not be allowed .

We have to preserve the unity of our defence at all costs ." Source: BBC Monitoring Caversham 18 May 99

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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